Roots Art Collective posing in front of their mural

In 2020, many artists created murals across Salt Lake City in response to the global pandemic and racial injustice. These public works reflect our city’s pain and frustration but also our hopes and demands for a better future. In an attempt to extend these conversations, the UMFA partnered with several muralists for the 2020: From here on out exhibition.

The following is a reflection on one of the exhibition’s murals Encuentra Fuerza En El Amor by the Roots Art Kollective, comprised of muralists and organizers Miguel Galaz, Luis Novoa, and Alan Ochoa. 


What do you want visitors to know about your mural?
This mural was an attempt to show the value of both the negative and positive experience through the pandemic. We went through the same events, but experienced them in different ways. Everything within the mural had different meanings, from the circular mandala that represents the unity of our society, the roses on the left and right representing ends and new beginnings, and the calligraphy words reading “Find strength in love to heal.”  

We hoped to create a mural that encapsulated most people's experience and feelings in a way that focused on the positive side of the experience. We all struggled and will continue to struggle throughout life, but these experiences and the reflection are what help us grow through these times. The pandemic made us more grateful and value our lives and those of our loved ones. 

Even though we wish viewers use their own perspectives to find their own meanings in the mural, here is some of the symbolism and what it means to us: 

  • The earth held in the hands symbolizes both the giving and receiving of life, focusing on the value and fragility of life. 
  • The patterns of the mandala represent the energy of growth, healing, and unity. This represents communal healing and radiating that energy through the petal-like design. We depend on our neighbors and family as we navigate this new sense of healing together. 
  • The white roses are used to signify the journey of life and death. The end as well as new beginnings. 
  • The calligraphy acts as a mantra that protects the communal healing and new-found values. To find the strength in love to be able to overcome struggling times. 

What does the title of your mural, Encuentra Fuerza En El Amor - Find Strength In Love, mean to you? 
The title symbolizes hope. When we are going through something difficult, we encounter the power of love from friends, family, significant others, and even the love that we give. As we find this strength, we can move through love to overcome difficult times. The phrase encapsulates the whole design, like the symbolism from the middle of the mural, hugging and protecting the value of life and time. No matter what we go through the power of love will overcome. 

What do you want visitors to know about you? 
One of our main goals is to be able to represent different perspectives and feelings, in order to better connect with our audience. Murals can be a great tool to transcend the differences in which we see our world. It can be easy to get caught up in the daily routines sometimes, so we try to apply elements in our work to help us slow down and reflect. There are many elements that come together to create some type of dialogue or story within our murals. We hope to continue to learn and grow to create art that can be appreciated by all walks of life. 

How did your experience of 2020 make you think differently about the future? 
Although 2020 was a difficult year, it also gave us the opportunity to reflect and learn about the things we value with the time we are given. It has felt like a new beginning, a time of rejuvenation, and redirection to our true aspirations. We hope this mural inspires people to reflect on those positive thoughts to serve as a reminder and help us create a hopeful and compassionate future. One of the most important things we’ve learned is that in times of struggle, the best thing to do is to find strength in love.